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November 10 2006

Buffy more like a comic book than Heroes says Brian K. Vaughan. The critically acclaimed comic book writer tells "Buffy is like a guy who loves comic books doing a TV show, and Heroes feels like a guy who loves television doing a comic book.".

Wow, that's quite a piece. Seems kinda heavy for EW... (no offense, you know =)

I just wish they hadn't attributed (the awesome) Unbreakable to Bruce Willis. He was great in the movie, but in an article that's all about ideas, you would think there would be a mention of the guy whose ideas made the movie. (Night, we're still waiting for a trilogy!)

And is it just me, or is Joe Quesada being uber-defensive? Everyone else (BKV, Straczynski, etc.) seems to recognize there's room for everyone, but Joe Q won't yield an inch from the idea that comics invented all this and everyone is copying them, and therefore comics are better. I prefer to embrace the fact that there are great storytellers in all these media (some can even do them all ;-).
Well, Joe Q was maybe slightly defensive but Tim Kring's comments echo a few things i've seen on blogs by non-comics readers about 'Heroes' supposed reinvention of the superhero story. Um, nope. Without meaning to be snobby comic book guy (because I really hate that fan-boyish superior attitude) it's all been done in the comics before (in some cases 20 years ago, maybe longer). Only someone totally unfamiliar with the best comics have to offer would suggest they're all about 'the powers' with no character driven stuff (I don't mind Kring not knowing everything about everything, he's only human, but I do mind him taking credit where it's not necessarily due - and so, apparently, does Joe Quesada).

That said, as JMS touches on, comics are largely about archetypes and they've been around as long as we have, much longer than their (until recently) latest incarnation in sequential art (the standard comparisons often made are between Superman and Hercules or Batman and Hades or The Flash and Hermes/Mercury but I bet there're loads more).

Personally, I see 'Heroes' as being a lot like 'The Matrix' (which some thought reinvented sci-fi). They're both extremely well realised implementations of ideas that have been around in comics (or sci-fi in the case of 'The Matrix') for a long time, tweaked to be slightly more accessible for a mainstream audience. I'm glad 'Heroes' is succeeding, I think it's a great show, but let's not get carried away and claim it's something new on the face of the Earth as far as the concept goes.

(I do agree though that time may be running out on the big licences from comics to movies. The characters that have the one thing existing comics can offer that original creations can't - i.e. mindshare - have pretty much all been adapted already with Wonder Woman and maybe Iron Man bringing up the rear)
Well, Simon, you can still debate which show BKV considers more like comics from that statement. ;-)

I don't really see Joey Q as being 'uber-defensive'--just a bit overexcitable and optimistic. Everything is good for comics in his eyes. That said, I agree with Saje that Kring was off claiming to do such new things.

That hasn't just happened with him, and it more often than not happens with writers/directors/producers who make a big thing about not intimately knowing the source material then claiming they're taking it in directions that have never been explored before.

All the more frustrating to read this remark of Kring's because that's not the vibe I get from the show itself. That feels very much like a story doing its own thing, but entirely respectful of where it comes from. Really loving it right now.

Edit: Oh, and Saje? The Matrix apparently came from comics as well. at the time, there was a lawsuit about how much of that story came from Grant Morisson's The Invisibles. ;-)

[ edited by Telltale on 2006-11-10 22:54 ]
The advantage that Tim Kring has is that he's a babe in the woods when it comes to comics. Not that what he's doing hasn't been done before, but that he's try to approach it with the eyes of someone who is not steeped in comic lore. That sort of person is able to give a freshness and enthusiasm to a story that an old veteran might not be able to muster, because they've just got too much baggage.

Not to say that an old pro can't do it, and in fact Kring was brilliant to bring in Jeph Loeb because he's able to steer Kring around the pitfalls he'd otherwise fall into. But I do appreciate the fact that a non-comic guy is the one who is trying to tell this story. It's probably the reason Heroes is able to resonate with an audience that is made up almost entirely of non-comic people.
I haven't seen Heroes but I get the premise. What puzzles me is that I haven't seen much comparison between that show and The 4400. Are there similaries?
I haven't seen Heroes either, but with all the promos they've aired with the "Save the cheerleader, save the world" tagline and knowing the basic premise of the show I, too, keep thinking this is just 4400 for network television.
Yeah, it's pretty much the same on paper. People popping up all over the world with special abilities, apparently to save us from impending doom. The difference is Heroes has a higher production value, and they try to make it more accessible.
"[S]hows based on new characters will become comics themselves, completing the circle and enhancing, rather than harming, the comic business."

Very astute insight. As a lifelong non-consumer of comic books, I plan to do my part to "enhance" the business by buying my first ever (not counting the MAD magazines from my childhood) comic book sometime in March 2007, when that comic based on a TV show character comes out.
I've been watching Heroes, and I watched The 4400, and I never made that comparison myself. I guess that very basically it's the same: people who didn't have powers but do now. But other than that it's completely different. The 4400 were abducted by aliens. Heroes is about superheroes. I really don't see many similarities, having seen all of both shows.
Not watched 'The 4400' (for the very pettiest of reasons too - Sky hyped it so much over here with adverts during pretty much every commercial break for weeks that I came over all contrary and skipped it ;) so can't compare but I suspect a lot of shows when boiled down to their basic premise would sound pretty similar to other things ('ragtag fugitives on the run from a shadowy evil organisation' for instance).

"[S]hows based on new characters will become comics themselves, completing the circle and enhancing, rather than harming, the comic business."

Well, yes, astute but at least partly because it's already happened 1starbuckstown ;). 'Battlestar Galactica', '24' and obviously 'Buffy' and 'Angel' are a few original shows that have become comics, i'm sure there're more I can't think of right now.

(and of course there's 'Batman', the comic of the hit 60s TV show starring Adam West ;p)

Yep, agreed jsnell that Kring brings a fresh perspective and that's great and very welcome but, assuming he's deliberately avoided immersing himself in comics to keep that freshness, it probably makes sense for him to not make such large claims of original input into a genre he doesn't know too much about (I can imagine Jeph Loeb for instance cringing somewhat when reading his boss' ill-informed comments - not least because he knows the beating Kring's gonna take in the angry fan-boy forums ;).
What I find interesting is that even the commentary can be 30 years old!

JMS: "...[if] everything is special, then nothing is special; if everybody is Superman, nobody is Superman."

Narrator: "This man is no ordinary man. This is Mr. F. G. Superman.
To all appearances, he looks like any other law-abiding citizen.

But Mr F. G. Superman has a secret identity...when trouble strikes at any time...
at any place...he is ready to become... Bicycle Repair Man!"
- Monty Python
If Buffy had the budget and promotional level that Hereos does, it would still be on the air and maybe finishing a ninth season - (Joss would be a mainstream icon with 13 million viewers per episode)

Heroes is shown on multiple channels with multiple time-slots each week and I would estimate twice the production budget (at minimum, not to mention look at how large the cast is).

At least Joss gets some kind of credit, if only just a mention, for breaking ground for all these new shows.
When Heroes first hit the interweb, there was a lot of comment in the various forums about its similitary to The 4400, possibly because so many of the posters are The 4400 fans. Hardly anyone compares them anymore, even though both have the superpowers and the time-traveling and the good vs evil superheroes and so on. I think it's a matter of tone and the fact that the 2 main characters on The 4400 are superpowerless gubmint agents. Maybe comparisons will start up again once The 4400 comes back next summer.

Also, Kring is amazingly lucky to have a staff with such strong comic backgrounds: when Earth2 started everyone was trumpeting the fact that the creators were coming to it fresh without any SF background. Well, they found out why an SF background was important after they got silly and bled their audience in buckets -- and another good idea bit the dust.
(From the article) "Heroes might also be blazing the trail for another long-languishing movie property, Watchmen, based on the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons comic book saga, considered by many to be the greatest superhero story ever told. Watchmen trafficks slyly and quite intelligently in superhero archetypes and situations, and one trepidation Hollywood execs have always had about mounting a costly adaptation of the comic was its inside-baseball aspect. Yet Heroes seems to have proven that movies like The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings, Spider-Man, and The Incredibles, plus the Harry Potter book and movie franchises, have united the world under a geek banner; we might not all speak the language fluently, but we know enough to get by. Watchmen is currently being developed with director Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead) at the helm, and we Watchmen fans at Entertainment Weekly wish him well and pray to the Geek Gods that he doesn't screw it up."

Oh, god, *shudder*
Pray to all the gods. I love this book.
(I skipped work to read it -- the first time.)
Please don't let them hurt it...
The only person I wanted to see do this was Joss himself.
(If it ever really does get made...)
I feel your pain, QuoterGal. :-)

The last time Watchmen was in production as a movie, it was actually looking pretty good until it was canned when the studio got new bosses. So it only stands to reason this version will stink and get made immediately. :-(
Was that the Paul Greengrass version Telltale ? That was reputed to be the best so far and he really seemed to care about and 'get' the comic.

You know, i'm gonna nail my colours to the mast here. I don't think 'Watchmen' should ever be adapted into a film. There, I said it ;).

I just don't see a two hour Hollywood movie adding anything to the layered, characterful beauty that is the comic (even in Joss' all too capable hands).
I may be wrong, Saje, but that seems to be the majority opinion among hardcore "Watchmen" fans, and I think maybe I agree with you'all. I don't believe I do need to see it done again in a different medium than its original. It's a little gem as it stands, and my experience with beloved books-into-movies is such that I am almost never encouraged...

But if it "were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well / It were done quickly. Hell, I dunno, but if it is gonna happen, than I just as soon it were Joss at least being true to its spirit.
Yeah, Saje. I liked how Greengrass talked about it, and there were positive noises from people whod seen scripts and production design.

I'm trying to be Alan Moorish about it: don't think Watchmen needs to be done in another medium, and I'm not going to let any movie affect my feelings about the book. It just feels like Watchmen will stay in production for as long as it takes to finally get made, so they might as well get it over with.
Exactly QuoterGal. Usually when I go to watch an adaptation of something i'm invested in experience has given me a 'Please don't fuck it up' rather than a 'I hope they've really added something to it' type of attitude.

As you both mention though, if it has to be made i'd say give Greengrass another shot or Joss or maybe Chris Nolan (might be watching 'The Prestige' later today and if he can adapt that well with its 2 or more unreliable narrators, linguistic legerdemain and general layers-upon-layers-ness then he could probably do 'Watchmen' some justice).

Depends of course whether it's better to have something that almost works or a complete farce that's easier to totally dissociate from the comic. Maybe Brett Ratner's the best choice after all ;).

(and i'm still left wondering when the movie of Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" is due out or maybe "Hey, Jude", bout time they made the film, surely ? If it ain't broke as they say...)
If you haven't tried Heroes yet, I recommend it when you get the chance. I remember a mention of it here long before it premiered, and I thought the premise sounded cool but I expected it to be cheesy. Not at all. The writers/directors/producers really exceeded my expectations. It may not suit everyone's tastes (and that's probably a good thing) but it's a high quality production and it shows. I'm totally engrossed in several characters, and I'm loving the way they are becoming connected to one another. I'm really proud of NBC on this one. They soooooooo let me down with Revelations. Heroes deserves the fanfare it's getting.

The funny thing about this article is how well I can see both sides of the comic/noncomic POV. I started reading graphic novels voraciously just a couple years ago -- Rising Stars and Runaways have been my favorite non-Whedon works. I guess I'm comicky enough now because I recognized the majority of comic writers/works referred to in the article. If that means I have any comic geek cred at all, then allow me to say that Heroes bashing is just whiny fanboy bitching. Who cares if Kring isn't a comics expert ?(I thought his naivete was actually kinda cute) My favorite writer *AHEM* never took a writing class and doesn't publish novels. Perhaps Kring is another case in point?
With regards to the comments about Joe Q's singlemindedness about the importance of comics, bare in mind that he's being asked to comment as an official management type figure from Marvel, not just a random comic book fan. He's certainly going to have his PR cap on and talk up the comics angle. I wouldn't say he even came across as being negative about what TV had done, he just focussed on the comic side of things.

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